Wednesday, 15 August 2012

My Iban Grandmother, Sumba Anak Mangku. (1939 – 2010)

Lately I have been remembering my late grandparents often. I tried to remember how they spoke and they things they spoke about. It is easy to remember my Ah Ma and Akong's (Chinese grandparents) because we lived next to them for so many years. Remembering my Ine, especially the sound of her voice is a bit harder because we saw less of her ...yet thinking about her brings out all these emotions; sadness, joy, humour, humility, kindness...I wish I have more memories of her.  For now, this is my last memory of her:
Despite being a rich and fertile land, Sarawak have places like Kampung Entanggor. Villages without road access, electricity and medical care. All basic living necessities. When we visited in May 2007, the people timidly asked how do we live under the opposition in Penang? They fear what the current leaders would do if they voted against them therefore repeatedly voting for a system that is dysfunctional. Their native land is being raped for profit whilst the indigenous people live a never ending cycle of poverty, non-development and lack of other basic human rights.

I saw my late Ine (grandmother in Iban) slowly leaving this world because she was denied basic medical and health care. The flying doctors couldn't come if the weather was bad and to make things worse, provided below average medical attention. I was told the "doctor" (possibly a male-nurse) stuck his head in, looked at my grandma and said "continue what ever you're doing..." He did not even bother to check on her condition and medication. How sad is that?

My grandmother was this super sweet jolly lady who in late 2008 suffered a stroke. Due to her love for her native land she and my grandfather opted to return to the longhouse to recover. If any of you have met my grandmother, you would remember her as the most humble, kind and simple woman. She asked for nothing but gave everything that she had, which were her love, humour and kindness.

Due to the lack of facilities, she slowly became weaker and quieter but you can still see the sparkle in her eyes and hear her laughter even for the smallest thing. She couldn't walk anymore but can still sit up and chat with her families and friends. When my mother visited her mother in May 2009, she said that Ine was doing well considering the situation. My Aunt was taking very good care of her and the only problem was her cholesterol level was a bit high. My mother was also concerned for the lack of medical assistants, should there be an emergency.

Then in June 2010, I saw my grandmother for the last time. By now, she was all bones and skin but still had a sparkle in her eyes. Shockingly, she was still taking medication to reduce her cholesterol. Logically the medication was for a person with access cholesterol and weight which she had a year ago. My mother and I decided to call a doctor in west Malaysia. I walked 15 minutes away from the long house to secure a stable line and called my friend. She immediately told me to stop medication because what she needed was fat in her body to recover and regenerate. My grandmother passed away 25 July 2010, she never recovered. 

What are we doing to ensure quality of life for people living in our country regardless of distance, education and ethnicity? 

This is in memory of my beautiful grandmother, Sumba Anak Mangku. (1939 – 2010)
Ine's cat...sweet fellow. He stayed by Ine's side till the very end.


  1. Hi tara, emily here. My sis also the same case in a way. She had acute bone pain and when we went to the emergency room, twice, they denied her admission. When she finally couldnt walk, it was too late.

    May your Ine rest in peace.

    1. Thanks dear Emily. I am really sorry about your sister too. I think I met her once at your home many years ago. May your sister rest in peace.

  2. Hey Tara,

    My deepest condolences. I am so sorry this happened to your grandmother. Excellent blog by the way. I will subscribe.

    Take care.